Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures down 0.2% to 7,075.00
  • Dow Average down 0.3% to 34,869.69
  • Aussie down 0.6% to 0.6471 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield fell 8.8bps to 4.4433%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield little changed at 4.17%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield rose 2 bps to 4.55%
  • Gold spot up 1.2% to $1,983.53
  • Brent futures down 4.7% to $77.39/bbl

Economic Events

Treasuries climbed after the latest economic figures underscored a gradual slowdown, reinforcing speculation the Federal Reserve will end its most-aggressive hiking campaign in decades.

Ten-year yields fell eight basis points to 4.45%. Following a torrid rally that sent American stocks near “overbought” levels, the S&P 500 was little changed. Oil tumbled below $73 a barrel — the lowest since July.

Wall Street kept a close eye on another batch of economic data on Thursday, with continuing applications for US unemployment benefits rising to the highest in almost two years. Factory production fell by more than expected, largely reflecting a strike-related pullback in activity at automakers and parts suppliers. Meantime, homebuilder sentiment hit the lowest in 2023.

Other News

Qantas Airways Ltd. illegally suspended a health and safety representative after he instructed colleagues not to clean planes arriving from Covid-19 hotspots at the start of the pandemic, an Australian court ruled in the latest blow to the airline’s battered reputation.

The ground worker at Sydney airport targeted by Qantas, Theo Seremetidis, told staff on Feb. 2, 2020, that for safety reasons they didn’t have to clean two aircraft arriving from China that morning. Qantas broke the law when it suspended Seremetidis the same day, according to Thursday’s judgment.

The case follows a September ruling by Australia’s top court that Qantas illegally sacked almost 1,700 ground workers during the pandemic. The country’s antitrust watchdog is also suing the airline for allegedly continuing to sell tickets on thousands of flights it had already decided to cancel.

The reputational damage caused by the scandals, as well as a slump in service levels since the pandemic, have triggered a stock-price slump, the early retirement of former Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce and a boardroom cleanout.

According to Thursday’s judgment, Seremetidis attempted to carry out his duties as a health and safety representative “conscientiously and carefully.” Sentences and costs are yet to be determined.

Qantas said it will review the judgment. “Our medical and safety teams worked tirelessly to provide daily updates to employees and to put effective controls and procedures in place to help protect our people and customers,” the airline said in a statement.

In early 2020, the workplace safety watchdog that brought the case against Qantas inspected the airline’s Covid cleaning practices. The watchdog’s subsequent report found that personal protective equipment wasn’t mandated for most tasks.

A workplace safety inspector “observed workers wiping over multiple tray tables with the same wet cloth with no disinfectant and cleaning unknown liquids on floors and surfaces,” according to the March 2020 report. Cleaners were “required to handle wet and used tissues, used face masks, soiled nappies and the workers advised they occasionally have to clean vomit and blood off surfaces.”

Qantas shares fell 0.9% in Sydney trading Thursday. The stock is down 11% this year.